Zoological Studies

Vol. 51 No. 2, 2012

An Experimental Study of the Response of the Gorgonian Coral Subergorgia suberosa to Polluted Seawater from a Former Coastal Mining Site in Taiwan

Isani Chan1, Li-Chun Tseng1, Samba KÔ1, Ching-Fong Chang2,3, and Jiang-Shiou Hwang1,3,*

1Institute of Marine Biology, National Taiwan Ocean Univ., 2 Pei-Ning Road, Keelung 202, Taiwan
2Institute of Aquaculture, National Taiwan Ocean Univ., 2 Pei-Ning Road, Keelung 202, Taiwan
3Center of Excellence for Marine Bioenvironment and Biotechnology, National Taiwan Ocean Univ., 2 Pei-Ning Road, Keelung 202, Taiwan

Isani Chan, Li-Chun Tseng, Samba KÔ, Ching-Fong Chang, and Jiang-Shiou Hwang (2012) The response of the gorgonian coral Subergorgia suberosa to heavy metal-contaminated seawater in the Yin-Yang Sea of Liang-Dong Bay, a former mining site in northeastern Taiwan, was investigated. Subergorgia suberosa bioaccumulation and tissue injury were recorded and examined throughout the study period. Heavy-metal concentrations in tissues of the corals showed a significantly increasing trend with incubation time. Cu, Zn, and Cd each showed characteristic bioaccumulation in this soft coral. Metallic Zn accumulated, but rapidly dissipated. In contrast, Cu easily accumulated, but was slow to dissipate, and Cd was only slowly absorbed and dissipated. Our results indicate that significant bioaccumulation of heavy metals occurred in S. suberosa coral. Histopathological and scanning electron microscopic results identified polyp necrosis, mucus secretion, tissue expansion, and increased mortality in S. suberosa corals exposed to water polluted with heavy metals.

Key words: Subergorgia suberosa, Heavy metals, Bioaccumulation, Histological examination.

*Correspondence: Tel: 886-935289642. Fax: 886-2-24629464. E-mail:jshwang@mail.ntou.edu.tw